Friday, March 16, 2018

IRS Can Help Taxpayers Get Form W-2

Most taxpayers got their Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, by the end of January. Taxpayers need their W-2s to file an accurate tax returns, as the form shows an employee’s income and taxes withheld for the year.
Taxpayers who haven’t received their W-2 by the end of February should:
  • Contact their Employer. Taxpayers should ask their current or former employer for a copy of their W-2. Be sure the employer has the correct address.
  • Call the IRS. Taxpayers who are unable to get a copy from their employer by the end of February may call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 for a substitute W-2. The IRS will send a letter to the employer on taxpayers’ behalf. When they call, taxpayers need their:
    • Name, address, Social Security number and phone number.
    • Employer’s name, address and phone number.
    • Employment dates.
    • Estimate of wages and federal income tax withheld in 2017. Use a final pay stub for these amounts.
  • File on Time. Taxpayers should file their tax return by April 17, 2018. If they still haven’t received their W-2, they should use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. They should estimate their wages and taxes withheld as best as possible. To request more time to file, they should use Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File. Taxpayers can also e-file a request for more time using IRS Free File. Taxpayers should remember that an extension of time to file isn’t an extension of time to pay taxes owed. Taxpayers can also get an extension by paying all or part of their estimated income tax due, and indicate that the payment is for an extension using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or a credit or debit card. This way, the taxpayer won’t have to file a separate extension form and will receive a confirmation number for their records.
  • Correct a Tax Return, if Necessary. Taxpayers may need to correct their tax return. This could happen if they get a missing W-2 after they file. If the tax information on the W-2 is different from what they first reported, they may need to file an amended tax return. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to make the change.
All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income from last year’s tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

IRS Alerts Taxpayers about Refund Scam

The IRS warns taxpayers of a new twist on an old scam. Criminals are depositing fraudulent tax refunds into individuals’ actual bank accounts, then attempting to reclaim the refund from the taxpayers.
Here are the basic steps criminals follow to carry out this scam. The thief:
  • Hacks tax preparers’ computers to steal taxpayer data.
  • Uses the stolen information to file tax returns as the taxpayers.
  • Has refunds deposited into taxpayers’ bank accounts.
  • Contacts their victims, telling them the money was mistakenly deposited into their accounts and asking them to return it.
While the IRS is aware of variations of this scam, the agency also knows that this scam may continue to evolve. Here are two current versions of this scam:
  • Criminals pose as debt collection agency officials acting on behalf of the IRS. The thief contacts the taxpayer to report an erroneous refund deposit and request that the taxpayer forward the money to the thief’s collection agency.
  • The taxpayer who received the erroneous refund gets an automated call with a recorded voice saying the caller is from the IRS. The recording threatens the taxpayer with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant and a “blacklisting” of his or her Social Security number. The recorded voice gives the taxpayer a phony case number and telephone number to call to return the refund.
Here are some things taxpayers should remember if someone contacts them about an erroneous refund:
  • There are established procedures taxpayers should follow to return erroneous funds to the IRS. Tax Topic Number 161 - Returning an Erroneous Refund has full details about how to return the money, including the actual mailing addresses where a taxpayer should send a paper check, if necessary. By law, interest may accrue on erroneous refunds.
  • The IRS encourages taxpayers to discuss the issue with their financial institutions because there may be a need to close bank accounts.
  • Taxpayers receiving erroneous refunds also should contact their tax preparers immediately.

The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard - Taxpayer Bill of Rights #4

Taxpayers have the right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard. This is one of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which clearly outline the fundamental rights of every taxpayer. The IRS wants to make sure taxpayers know about their rights when dealing with the agency.
Taxpayers have the right to:
  • Raise objections.
  • Provide additional documentation in response to formal or proposed IRS actions.
  • Expect the IRS to consider their objections timely.
  • Have the IRS consider any supporting documentation promptly.
  • Receive a response if the IRS does not agree with their position.
Here are some specific things taxpayers can expect about the right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard.
  • In some cases, the IRS will notify a taxpayer that their tax return has a mathematical or clerical error. If this happens, the taxpayer:
    • Has 60 days to tell the IRS that they disagree.
    • Should provide copies of any records that may help correct the error.
    • May call the number listed on the letter or bill for assistance.
    • Can expect the agency to make the necessary adjustment to their account and send a correction if the IRS upholds the taxpayer’s position.
  • Here’s what will happen if the IRS does not agree with the taxpayer’s position:
    • The agency will issue a notice proposing a tax adjustment. This is a letter that comes in the mail.
    • This notice provides the taxpayer with a right to challenge the proposed adjustment.
    • The taxpayer makes this challenge by filing a petition in U.S. Tax Court. The taxpayer must generally file the petition within 90 days of the date of the notice, or 150 days if it is addressed outside the United States.
  • Taxpayers can submit documentation and raise objections during an audit. If the IRS does not agree with the taxpayer’s position, the agency issues a notice explaining why it is increasing the tax. Prior to paying the tax, the taxpayer has the right to petition the U.S. Tax Court, and challenge the agency’s decision.
  • In some circumstances, the IRS must provide a taxpayer with an opportunity for a hearing before an independent Office of Appeals. The agency must do this:
    • Before taking enforcement action to collect a tax debt. These actions include levying the taxpayer’s bank account.
    • Immediately after filing a notice of federal tax lien in the appropriate state filing location. If the taxpayer disagrees with the decision of the Appeals Office, they can petition the U.S. Tax Court.

Tax Filing Deadline is Soon, Remember Most Taxpayers Can File for Free

With April 17 tax filing deadline quickly approaching, the IRS reminds taxpayers that most of them qualify for free tax filing with IRS Free File. The special service is‎ available on and through the IRS2Go ‎mobile app. Both Android and iOS users can download this app. Taxpayers can use Free File to prepare and e-file their federal taxes either through brand-name software or using online fillable forms.
Here are the top ten facts about Free File:
  • Individuals or families with 2017 adjusted gross incomes of $66,000 or less can use Free File software.
  • There is no income limit to use Free File Fillable Forms, which are electronic versions of IRS paper forms.
  • Taxpayers can prepare their return at any time and schedule a tax payment as late as the April 17 deadline.
  • Taxpayers who cannot meet the April tax filing deadline can also use IRS Free File to request an automatic six-month extension. An extension gives them until Oct. 15, 2018, to file their return.
  • Each of the 12 commercial companies in the Free File Alliance has its own special offer.
  • Offers from software companies are generally based on age, income or state residency.
  • Taxpayers can review each company offer individually or the taxpayer can use a “Lookup” tool. This tool will help the taxpayer find the software for which they are eligible.
  • Some of the companies also offer free state return preparation.
  • Active duty military personnel with incomes of $66,000 or less may use any IRS Free File software product of their choice without regard to the criteria.
  • IRS Free File software does the work, including the math. It walks users through the tax preparation process using a series of questions while also helping to find tax changes that may affect their return.

Check Status of a Tax Refund in Minutes Using Where’s My Refund?

The Where's My Refund? tool gives taxpayers access to their tax return and refund status anytime. All they need is internet access and three pieces of information:
  • Their Social Security number.
  • Their filing status.
  • The exact whole dollar amount of their refund.
Taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS received their e-filed return, or four weeks after they mail a paper return. Where’s My Refund? includes a tracker that displays progress through three stages: the IRS receives the tax return, then approves the refund, and sends the refund.
Where’s My Refund? updates once every 24 hours, usually overnight. Taxpayers should remember that checking the status more often will not produce new results. Taxpayers on the go can track their return and refund status on their mobile devices using the free IRS2Go app. Those who file an amended return should check out the Where’s My Amended Return? tool. 
Generally, the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, but some may take longer. IRS phone and walk-in representatives can research the status of refunds only if it's been 21 days or more since a taxpayer filed electronically, or more than six weeks since they mailed a paper return. Taxpayers can also contact the IRS if Where's My Refund? directs them to do so.
There is a misconception that a tax transcript can help taxpayers determine the status of their refund. The information included on a transcript does not necessarily reflect the amount or timing of a refund. Transcripts are best used to validate past income and tax filing status for loan applications, and to help with tax preparation.

Taxpayers Should Report Name Changes Before Filing Taxes

When a taxpayer changes their name, that change can affect their taxes. All the names on a taxpayer’s tax return must match Social Security Administration records. A name mismatch can delay a tax refund. Here’s what a taxpayer should do if anyone listed on their tax return changed their name:
  • Reporting Taxpayer’s Name Change. Taxpayers who should notify the SSA of a name change include:
    • Taxpayers who got married and use their spouse’s last name.
    • Recently married taxpayers who now use a hyphenated name.
    • Divorced taxpayers who now use their former last name.

  • Reporting Dependent’s Name Change. Taxpayers should notify the SSA if a dependent’s name changed.  This includes an adopted child who now has a new last name. If the child doesn’t have a Social Security number, the taxpayer may use a temporary Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number on the tax return. Taxpayers can apply for an ATIN by filing a Form W-7A.

  • Getting a New Social Security Card. Taxpayers who have a name change should get a new card that reflects a name change. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. Taxpayers can get the form on or by calling 800-772-1213.
More Information:
Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions
IRS YouTube Videos: 
Changed Your Name after Marriage or Divorce? – EnglishSpanish | ASL

The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum — Taxpayer Bill of Rights #5

Taxpayers have the right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum. This is one of ten basic rights — known collectively as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights — that all taxpayers have when dealing with the IRS.
The IRS Office of Appeals that handles a taxpayer’s case must be separate from the IRS office that initially reviewed that case. Generally, Appeals will not discuss a case with the IRS to the extent that those communications appear to compromise the independence of Appeals.
Here are some points to remember about the right to appeal a decision in an independent forum:
  • A statutory notice of deficiency is an IRS letter proposing additional tax. Taxpayers who receive this notice and who then timely file a petition with the United States Tax Court may dispute the proposed adjustment before they must pay the tax.
  • Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial appeal of most IRS decisions, including many penalties.
  • Taxpayers have the right to receive a written response regarding a decision from the IRS Office of Appeals.
  • When taxpayers don’t agree with the IRS’s decisions, they can refer to Publication 5, Your Appeal Rights and How To Prepare a Protest If You Don’t Agree, for details on how to appeal.
  • Generally, taxpayers may file a refund suit in a United States district court or the United States Court of Federal Claims if:
    • They have fully paid the tax and the IRS has denied their tax refund claim.
    • No action is taken on the refund claim within six months.
    • It’s been less than two years since the IRS mailed them a notice denying the refund.

Don’t Fall for Scam Calls and Emails Impersonating IRS

Scammers and cyberthieves continue to use the IRS as bait. The most common tax scams are phone calls and emails from thieves who pretend to be from the IRS. Scammers use the IRS name, logo, fake employee names and badge numbers to try to steal money and identities from taxpayers.
Taxpayers need to be wary of phone calls or automated messages from someone who claims to be from the IRS. Often, these criminals will say taxpayers owe money and demand payment right away. Other times, scammers will lie to taxpayers and say they’re due a refund. The thieves ask for bank account information over the phone. The IRS warns taxpayers not to fall for these scams.
Below are several tips that will help filers avoid becoming a scam victim.
IRS employees will not:
  • Call demanding an immediate payment. The IRS won’t call taxpayers if they owe taxes without first sending a bill in the mail.
  • Demand payment without allowing taxpayers to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Demand that taxpayers pay their taxes in a specific way, such as with a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to contact local police or similar agencies to arrest taxpayers for non-payment of taxes.
  • Threaten legal action, such as a lawsuit.
If taxpayers don’t owe or don’t think they owe any tax, and they receive an inquiry like this, they should:
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page to report the incident.
  • Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your report.
In most cases, an IRS phishing scam is an unsolicited, fake email that claims to come from the IRS. Some emails link to sham websites that look real. The scammers’ goal is to lure victims to give up their personal and financial information. If the thieves get what they’re after, they use it to steal a victim’s money and identity.

For those taxpayers who get a phishing email, the IRS offers this advice:
  • Don’t reply to the message.
  • Don’t give out your personal or financial information.
  • Forward the email to Then delete it.
  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.

Top Things to Know About Deducting Charitable Contributions on a 2017 Tax Return

Taxpayers who give money or goods to a charity may be able to claim a deduction on their 2017 federal tax return, which basically reduces the amount of their taxable income. Here are some important facts about charitable donations:
  • Qualified charities. To receive a deduction, taxpayers must donate to a qualified charity. To check the status of a charity, use the IRS Select Check tool. Here are examples of things that taxpayers can’t deduct:
    • Gifts to individuals
    • Donations to political organizations and candidates
  • Itemize deductions. To deduct donations, taxpayers must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions using Schedule A.
  • Benefit in return. Taxpayers can only deduct the amount of their donation that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received. If taxpayers get something in return for their donation, they may have to reduce their deduction. Examples of benefits include merchandise, meals and tickets to events.
  • Property donation. If taxpayers give property instead of cash, they can normally only deduct the item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price they’d get for the property on the open market. Used clothing and household items donated must generally be in good condition or better. Special rules apply to cars, boats and other types of property donations.
  • Form to File. Taxpayers file Form 8283 for all non-cash gifts totaling more than $500 for the year.
  • Proof of Donation. If taxpayers donated cash or goods of $250 or more, they must have a written statement from the charity. The statement must show:
    • Amount of the donation.
    • Description of any property given.
    • Whether the donor received any goods or services in exchange for the gift.

Things to Remember when Considering Early Withdrawals from Retirement Plans

Many taxpayers may need to take out money early from their Individual Retirement Account or retirement plan. Doing so, however, can trigger an additional tax on early withdrawals. They would owe this tax on top of other income tax they may have to pay. Here are a few key points to know:
  • Early withdrawals. An early withdrawal is taking a distribution from an IRA or retirement plan before reaching age 59½.
  • Additional tax. Taxpayers who took early withdrawals from an IRA or retirement plan must report them when they file their tax return. They may owe income tax on the amount plus an additional 10 percent tax if it was an early withdrawal.
  • Nontaxable withdrawals. The additional 10 percent tax doesn’t apply to nontaxable withdrawals, such as contributions that taxpayers paid tax on before they put them into the plan.
  • Rollover. A rollover happens when someone takes cash or other assets from one plan and puts it in another plan. They normally have 60 days to complete a rollover to make it tax-free.
  • Exceptions. There are many exceptions to the additional 10-percent tax. Some of the rules for retirement plans are different from the rules for IRAs.
  • Disaster Relief. Participants in certain disaster areas may have relief from the 10-percent early withdrawal tax on early withdrawals from their retirement accounts.
  • File Form 5329. Taxpayers who took early withdrawals last year may have to file Form 5329, Additional Taxes on Qualified Plans (including IRAs) and Other Tax-Favored Accounts, with their federal tax returns.
Use IRS e-file. Early withdrawal rules can be complex. IRS e-file can help. It’s the easiest and most accurate way to file a tax return. The tax preparation software that taxpayers use to e-file will pick the right tax forms, do the math and help get the tax benefits they’re due. Seven out of 10 taxpayers qualify to use IRS Free File tax software. Free File is only available through the IRS website.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

About IRS Free File

Millions of Americans use IRS Free File to file their federal taxes. It’s safe, secure and free. Taxpayers can use either name-brand software or the Free File Fillable Forms. Combining IRS Free File with direct deposit is the quickest and safest way to get a refund.
Here are five things to remember about IRS Free File:
  1. Access Free File at IRS Free File is available only through Taxpayers can choose a Free File company offer that they qualify for and then click on that link to prepare and e-file the return.
  2. Free File Can Find Tax Breaks. The tax software’s question-and-answer format helps eligible taxpayers find tax breaks. This could include tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. The software then selects the appropriate tax forms and does the calculations automatically.
  3. It is Free for Everyone. Taxpayers with income of $66,000 or less can use brand-name software. Taxpayers who earned more can use Free File Fillable Forms. This option allows taxpayers to complete IRS forms electronically. It is best for those who are familiar with doing their own taxes.
  4. File from personal devices. Taxpayers may use their smart phones or tablets to electronically prepare and file their tax returns with IRS Free File through the IRS2Go app for Android and iOS devices or by visiting from the device.
  5. Easy Online Extensions. For those who cannot finish their return by the April 17 deadline, it’s easy to use Free File to request a six-month extension. An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. If taxpayers owe federal taxes, they should estimate the amount they owe and pay it with the extension request. This helps avoid penalties and interest.
The IRS partners with the Free File Alliance and its member companies to provide a dozen brand-name tax software options at no cost. Many Free File alliance member companies also provide free state tax preparation software.
All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Taxpayers using a software product may need their Adjusted Gross Income amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

Questions Preparers Should Ask Themselves About Office Security

Tax professionals can protect taxpayer data by simply looking around their own offices. Preparers can look for places where they store data. They should use a critical eye to assess whether that data is secure. Tax preparers should also remember that unsecured data will not always be on a computer. In fact, securing office space is as important as securing computers. 
In assessing how secure an office is, preparers should consider these six questions. The answers can be very important to help preparers protect both their clients and their businesses.
  • Are all the places where taxpayer information is located protected from unauthorized access and potential danger such as theft, flood and tornado?
  • Are there written procedures that prevent unauthorized access and unauthorized processes?
  • Is taxpayer information left unsecured? This includes data stored electronically. Check desks, photocopiers, mailboxes, vehicles and trashcans. What about in rooms in the office or at home where unauthorized access could occur? 
  • Who authorizes or controls delivery and removal of taxpayer information, including data stored electronically?
  • Are the doors to file rooms and computer rooms locked?
  • Is there a secure disposal of taxpayer information, such as shredders, burn boxes, or secure temporary file areas for information until it can be properly disposed?

Ten Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer

It’s the time of the year when many taxpayers choose a tax preparer to help file a tax return. These taxpayers should choose their tax return preparer wisely.  This is because taxpayers are responsible for all the information on their income tax return. That’s true no matter who prepares the return. 
Here are ten tips for taxpayers to remember when selecting a preparer:
  1. Check the Preparer’s Qualifications. Use the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. This tool helps taxpayers find a tax return preparer with specific qualifications. The directory is a searchable and sortable listing of preparers. 
  2. Check the Preparer’s History. Ask the Better Business Bureau about the preparer. Check for disciplinary actions and the license status for credentialed preparers. For CPAs, check with the State Board of Accountancy. For attorneys, check with the State Bar Association. For Enrolled Agents, go to the verify enrolled agent status page on or check the directory.  
  3. Ask about Service Fees. Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition. When asking about a preparer’s services and fees, don’t give them tax documents, Social Security numbers or other information. 
  4. Ask to E-File. Taxpayers should make sure their preparer offers IRS e-file. The quickest way for taxpayers to get their refund is to electronically file their federal tax return and use direct deposit. 
  5. Make Sure the Preparer is Available. Taxpayers may want to contact their preparer after this year’s April 17 due date. Avoid fly-by-night preparers.
  6. Provide Records and Receipts. Good preparers will ask to see a taxpayer’s records and receipts. They’ll ask questions to figure things like the total income, tax deductions and credits. 
  7. Never Sign a Blank Return. Don’t use a tax preparer who asks a taxpayer to sign a blank tax form.
  8. Review Before Signing. Before signing a tax return, review it. Ask questions if something is not clear. Taxpayers should feel comfortable with the accuracy of their return before they sign it. They should also make sure that their refund goes directly to them – not to the preparer’s bank account. Review the routing and bank account number on the completed return. The preparer should give you a copy of the completed tax return. 
  9. Ensure the Preparer Signs and Includes Their PTIN. All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.
  10. Report Abusive Tax Preparers to the IRS. Most tax return preparers are honest and provide great service to their clients. However, some preparers are dishonest. Report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax preparer filed or changed their return without the taxpayer’s consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. 

Disability and Earned Income Tax Credit

Some disability retirement benefits qualify as earned income to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC. Also, you may claim a relative of any age as a qualifying child if the relative is totally and permanently disabled and fits all other EITC requirements.

What Disability Benefits Qualify as Earned Income for EITC?

IRS considers disability retirement benefits as earned income until you reach minimum retirement age. Minimum retirement age is the earliest age you could have received a pension or annuity if you did not have the disability.

After you reach minimum retirement age, IRS considers the payments your pension and not earned income.

Benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance, SSI, or military disability pensions are not considered earned income and cannot be used to claim the EITC. You may qualify for the credit only if you,or your spouse, if filing a joint return, have other earned income.

Read more about additional requirements for qualifying for EITC here. Or, use the EITC Assistant to help you determine if you meet the additional requirements for qualifying for EITC. Spanish EITC Assistant.

Read more about Disability Benefits in Publication 596, Earned Income Credit or Publication 596 (SP), Credito por Ingreso del Trabajo

Disability Insurance Payments. Payments you received from a disability insurance policy that you paid the premiums for are not earned income. It does not matter whether you have reached minimum retirement age. If this policy is through your employer, your Form W-2 may show the amount in box 12 with code “J.”Read more about Life Insurance & Disability Insurance Proceeds here.

A Qualifying Child with a Disability

To be your qualifying child for EITC, a child must have a Social Security Number that is valid for employment and is issued before the due date of the return. The child must also pass the age, relationship, residency, and joint return tests. Your child must be your son, daughter, adopted child, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister or a descendent of any of them.
Age Test for Qualifying Child with a Disability. There is no age limit and the child does not have to be younger than you if the qualifying child is permanently and totally disabled. Your qualifying child is permanently and totally disabled if both of the following apply:
  1. He or she cannot engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental condition and
  2. A doctor determines the condition has lasted or can be expected to last continuously for at least a year or can lead to death.

If the qualifying child receives disability benefits, you can still use the child for EITC purposes. Read more about the additional tests for a qualifying child here.
Proof of Permanently and Totally Disabled. To prove your claim of EITC for a child who is permanently and totally disabled, you need a letter from the child’s doctor, other healthcare provider or any social service program or agency verifying the child is permanently and totally disabled.
Sheltered Employment. A child working for minimal pay under a special program for people with disabilities is not engaged in a “substantial gainful activity” under the definition of permanently and totally disabled. Work for minimal pay offered to people with physical or mental disabilities or sheltered employment must be offered by qualified locations. Qualified locations are:
  • Sheltered workshops,
  • Hospitals and similar institutions,
  • Homebound programs, and
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sponsored homes.

What do I have to do to get EITC?

You must file a tax return to determine your eligibility to claim the EITC. Many miss out because they owe no tax so do not file a tax return.

Free Tax Assistance. Special assistance is available for persons with disabilities. If you are unable to complete your tax return because of a disability, you may be able to obtain assistance from an IRS office or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or Tax Counseling for the Elderly Programs sponsored by IRS.
Free File Your Return. Free File is the fast, easy and free way to prepare and e-file your federal taxes online. The Free File program provides free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing for eligible taxpayers through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies. Or you can use the free fillable tax forms feature. Find out more about Free File here.

EITC Impact on Other Government Benefits

Refunds received from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC or EIC), the Child Tax Credit (CTC) or other refundable credits are not considered income and is not counted as a resource for at least 12 months from when your receive it for benefits or assistance under any Federal program or under any State or local program financed in whole or in part with Federal funds. 
But, it is always best to check with your local benefit coordinator to find out if your benefits fall under this provision.

Have Your Tax Prepared for Free

Millions of families get their taxes done every year for free through two programs sponsored by the IRS. These help people with lower and moderate incomes:
  • The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance: This program is also known as VITA. It offers free tax return preparation to eligible taxpayers who generally earn $54,000 or less.
  • Tax Counseling for the Elderly: TCE is mainly for people age 60 or older, but offers service to all taxpayers. The program focuses on tax issues unique to seniors. AARP participates in the TCE program through AARP Tax-Aide.
The IRS works with local community groups to train and certify thousands of volunteers. Eligible taxpayers should consider taking advantage of these free programs. This includes people with disabilities and people who speak limited English.
Here are some additional details about these two volunteer programs:
  • Free Tax Prep Around the Country. The IRS works with community organizations to offer free tax help at thousands of sites nationwide. These sites usually begin opening in late January and early February.
  • Free Electronic Filing. VITA and TCE provide free electronic filing. E-file is the safest, most accurate way to file a tax return. Taxpayers can combine e-file with direct deposit for quicker refunds.
  • Volunteer Preparers Trained to Help Find Tax Benefits. The IRS certifies the VITA and TCE volunteers. They help people get all the tax benefits for which they are eligible. These include the Earned Income Tax CreditAmerican Opportunity Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit or the Credit for the Elderly.
  • Bilingual Help. Some VITA and TCE sites provide bilingual assistance.
  • Help for Military. Many military bases have VITA sites. These sites offer free tax assistance to members of the military and their families. Volunteers can help with military tax topics. Some of these include special rules and tax benefits that apply to those serving in combat zones.
  • Self-Preparation Option. At many VITA sites, people who earn $64,000 or less may be able to prepare their own tax returns. They can do this using free web-based software. This option is for those who do not have a home computer or do not need much help.
  • Site Information Available on Taxpayers can find the nearest VITA site by using the VITA Locator Tool at They can also do so by downloading the IRS2Go app. Site information is also available by calling the IRS at 800-906-9887. Find more on AARP Tax-Aide locations by using the AARP Locator.

Four Tax Credits Can Mean a Refund for Individual Taxpayers

Taxpayers who are not required to file a tax return may want to do so. They might be eligible for a tax refund and don’t even know it. Some taxpayers might qualify for a tax credit that can result in money in their pocket. Taxpayers need to file a 2017 tax return to claim these credits.
Here is information about four tax credits that can mean a refund for eligible taxpayers:
  • Earned Income Tax Credit. A taxpayer who worked and earned less than $53,930 last year could receive the EITC as a tax refund. They must qualify for the credit, and may do so with or without a qualifying child. They may be eligible for up to $6,318. Taxpayers can use the 2017 EITC Assistant tool to find out if they qualify.
  • Premium Tax Credit.Taxpayers who chose to have advance payments of the premium tax credit sent directly to their insurer during 2017 must file a federal tax return to reconcile any advance payments with the allowable premium tax credit. In addition, taxpayers who enrolled in health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2017 and did not receive the benefit of advance credit payments may be eligible to claim the premium tax credit when they file. They can use the Interactive Tax Assistant to see if they qualify for this credit.
  • Additional Child Tax Credit. If a taxpayer has at least one child that qualifies for the Child Tax Credit, they might be eligible for the ACTC. This credit is for certain individuals who get less than the full amount of the child tax credit.
  • American Opportunity Tax Credit. To claim the AOTC, the taxpayer, their spouse or their dependent must have been a student who was enrolled at least half time for one academic period. The credit is available for four years of post-secondary education. It can be worth up to $2,500 per eligible student. Even if the taxpayer doesn’t owe any taxes, they may still qualify. They are required to have Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, to be eligible for an education benefit. Students receive this form from the school they attended. There are exceptions for some students. Taxpayers should complete Form 8863, Education Credits, and file it with their tax return.
By law, the IRS is required to hold EITC and Additional Child Tax Credit refunds until mid-February — even the portion not associated with the EITC or ACTC.  The IRS expects the earliest of these refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or debit cards starting February 27, 2018, if these taxpayers choose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return.
Instructions for Forms 10401040A or 1040EZ list income tax filing requirements. Taxpayers can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on to answer many tax questions. They should look for “Do I need to file a return?” under general topics.
This tax tip covers information for tax year 2017 and is not affected by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Most of the changes in this legislation take effect in 2018 and will affect the tax returns filed in 2019.

Check Eligibility for Earned Income Tax Credit

The IRS urges Native American taxpayers to check if they qualify for the earned income tax credit since many workers in Tribal communities often overlook this credit.
EITC benefits Native Americans who meet basic rules. Taxpayers must have income from a job, be self-employed, or run their own business. This includes home-based businesses and work in the service industry, construction and farming.

Income Limits and Maximum Credit Amounts

For tax year 2017, the income limits for all taxpayers’ earned income and adjusted gross income must each be less than:
Filing StatusQualifying Children Claimed
ZeroOneTwoThree or More
Head of Household$15,010$39,617$45,007$48,340
Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child$15,010$39,617$45,007$48,340
Married Filing Jointly$20,600$45,207$50,957$53,930

The maximum credit for Tax Year 2017 is:
  • $6,318 with three or more qualifying children
  • $5,616 with two qualifying children
  • $3,400 with one qualifying child
  • $510 with no qualifying children
By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds before mid-February for tax returns that claim the EITC or the additional child tax credit. The law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC or ACTC. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting Feb. 27, 2018, if these taxpayers choose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return.

Members of Military? Learn about the Earned Income Tax Credit

The IRS reminds members of the military and veterans that they may qualify for the earned income tax credit. This credit benefits certain people who work and have earned income that’s less than $53,930.
A tax credit usually means more money in the taxpayer’s pocket. The EITC can reduce the amount of tax someone owes, but it might also result in a refund. Here are some things members of the armed forces should know about this credit. These are all specific to the military:
  • Generally, nontaxable pay for members of the armed forces isn’t earned income for the EITC. Examples of nontaxable military pay are
    • Combat pay
    • Basic allowance for housing
    • Basic allowance for subsistence
  • A member of the armed forces can elect to have their nontaxable combat pay included in earned income for purposes of the EITC. Doing so may increase or decrease their EITC. The taxpayer can find the amount of their nontaxable combat pay on their Form W-2, in box 12, with code Q. The IRS encourages these taxpayers to calculate their taxes both ways to find out what's best for them.
  • Taxpayers who elect to include their combat pay in income must include all nontaxable combat pay they received. They can't choose to include only a part of the nontaxable combat pay in earned income. Couples with two members of the military filing a joint return have a few options when deciding whether to include combat pay in their income:
    • Spouse 1 can choose to include all their nontaxable combat pay and spouse 2 can choose zero
    • Spouse 1 can choose to include zero amount of your nontaxable combat pay and spouse 2 can choose to include all of it
    • They can both choose to include all their nontaxable combat pay
    • They can both choose not to include their nontaxable combat pay
  • Members of the military on extended active duty outside the U.S. are considered to live in the country during that duty period for purposes of figuring their EITC. Extended active duty means the taxpayer is called to duty for an indefinite period or for a period of more than 90 days. Once they begin serving extended active duty, they’re still considered to have been on extended active duty even if they don't serve more than 90 days.
By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds before mid-February for tax returns that claim the EITC or the additional child tax credit. The law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC or ACTC.  The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting Feb. 27, 2018, if these taxpayers choose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return.